Hoosier beer on Sunday, Wild and Sour

When I was still living in Southern Indiana many years ago, I remember crossing the Second Street bridge on Sundays a few times to pick up cold beer at Mike Walsh Liquor & Beer in Louisville. The joke among my friends always was that on Sunday, three-fourths of the cars in the Mike Walsh parking lot had Indiana tags on them.

The funniest part was, most of the time, that actually was the case.

As of March 4, my Hoosier friends can go to any liquor store for cold beer, or get warm beer in grocery and convenience stores, between noon and 8 p.m. every Sunday. Recent legislation passed that repeals the Prohibition-era ban on selling alcohol at liquor stores and other retail outlets.

Think about that: a Prohibition-era law, still in effect. And Indiana was just one of about a dozen states with these types of laws still in place regarding Sunday sales. How on Earth did it take so long to change this madness? (In Kentucky, no retail sales are allowed before 1 p.m. on Sunday, but restaurants can sell all day.)

Following temperance, which got rolling in the late 1800s, alcohol became viewed by many as a social evil, and this led to Prohibition. Clearly, that was a bad idea that caused more problems than it solved, which is why it was repealed less than a decade and a half later.

But ridiculous laws created at the time of repeal, such as not selling alcohol on the Sabbath, remained in many states for years and years. Many still remain, particularly in the South. But Indiana took a step in the right direction, at least as far as the consumers are concerned. And in the process, all the Indiana liquor store owners rejoiced. Right?

Well, not exactly.

Todd Antz, owner of The Keg Liquors in Clarksville and New Albany, described the change so far as, “Excitement from our customers for the first week. Then, it died down quickly the second week. It’s still too early to know if it’s going to be good or bad in the long run.”

That said, he pointed out that he had to quickly hire a new employee and is looking for a second. That’s a positive thing because it means extra jobs in liquor stores across the state. But the hidden problem is that these employees need an alcohol sales permit and must have state-approved training — this isn’t required for the non-liquor stores. Someone has to work those hours.

Also, he said, the added day of business doesn’t necessarily mean more sales.

“All studies from other states that have enacted Sunday sales show that what we’ve been making in six days will be stretched out to seven days,” Antz said. “My hope is that we will see an overall increase in business from the Indiana residents that no longer have to go to Kentucky to buy alcohol on Sundays. But it is too early in the process to know that for certain yet.”

When I lived in Indiana, I typically bought my beer the day before because, well, I knew the liquor stores wouldn’t be open on Sunday. Why? Because it had been that way literally since 1933. Ridiculous as it was, at least we all knew the drill. I’m certainly happy for my Hoosier friends and family members, but will they buy more beer? Hard to say. Drink up, Indiana.

Wild and Sour

If you like your beer funky, you’ll be happy to know Wild and Sour in America is back March 29 at Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse.

It’s a cocktail-style tasting, with funked-up beers served in signature stemware alongside a wide array of hors d’oeuvres.

You’ll get to try beers from Marz Community Brewing of Chicago, Hi-Wire Brewing from Asheville, Hoof Hearted Brewing from Marengo, Ohio, Louisville’s own Monnik Beer Co. and Blackberry Farm from eastern Tennessee.

And, of course, Against the Grain will roll out a few samples from its All Funked Up series, which will include Herbie Samplecock (a French saison), Chris Framboise (a brettanomyces-aged raspberry saison), Johann Paycheque (wine barrel-aged sour), and Sacred Sacrum (Belgian, strong-aged in red wine barrels).

The food menu includes items like smoked oysters with chorizo brown butter, charcoal-grilled leeks with anchovy hollandaise, ribs with miso, chocolate and cashew dust and barbecue prime rib sandwiches.

You can get advance tickets at the brewery or online for $55 at atg-brewery.mybigcommerce.com/wild-and-sour-in-america, or $65 at the door. The event is 7-11 p.m., and it’s 21 and over only. Prepare to pucker up.